Friday, February 10, 2012

In Theatres Today: Phantom Menace vs. Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich will be mocked in The Phantom Menace, which is being rereleased in 3D today in theatres (because this Star Wars prequel wasn’t awful enough in 2D thirteen years ago).

No, they have not digitally added Newt-mockery to keep up with current affairs.  Newt was mocked the first time around, when the movie was released in 1999, George Lucas having presumably started the (painful) script-writing process a few years earlier. 

The convoluted and boring plot of Phantom Menace, as you’ve forgotten if you’re lucky, is basically: two religious cops get stuck in a hick desert town without cab fare, saddled with a spastic amphibious sidekick, and have to gamble on a kid’s racing skills to get enough money to return home.  But the villain who drove them (and audiences everywhere) to this hellish fate – the head of the explicitly anti-tax Trade Federation that is resisting the will of the Republic’s central government and that government’s noble enforcers, the Jedi – is one Nute Gunray, plainly a soundalike for “Newt Gingrich” and the Reagan film “Knute Rockne” plus an anagrammatical “Reagan” (and, yes, Lucas is that left-wing – rather like Gore Vidal in his views, actually – in case you hadn’t noticed, and he was peeved SDI got nicknamed “Star Wars”). 

Nute is also a funny-talking parody of an Asian for good measure, since the left was especially fearful of Asian capitalism in the 90s (and Lucas likes ethnic stereotypes, famously responding to complaints about Jar-Jar’s cartoonish Jamaicanness by saying there would a wider variety of ethnic types in the subsequent prequels, not history’s most reassuring reply to critics).  And the Jedi dislike cigarettes and unlimited campaign contributions, too, as you may remember from other bits of choice Star Wars prequel dialogue. 

In any case, if Gingrich gets his moonbase, the Jedi may be paying him an unfriendly visit (but then: that’s no moon – that’s a space station). 

No comments: